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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Entries in Lightroom (2)


    Archiving JPG Scans and Photos from Your Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, Digital Camera, and Mobile Phone

    Nebraska summer

    Nebraska Summer
    JPG 614 KB vs. TIFF 9.2 MB

    It's no coincidence that compact mobile scanning devices produce only JPG files. Whether you are using a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, a cell phone camera, smartphone app, wand scanner, or point-and-shoot digital , the resulting digital file is a JPG image file. 

    JPG files use compression to keep the overall file size small so that more images can fit on a storage card or hard drive. Small portable devices like the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and digital cameras need this kind of high-capacity storage. The Flip-Pal is completely battery-powered and saves scanned images to a small SD card, probably like the one in your digital camera. The included 2 MB SD card will hold about 900 scans at 600 dpi resolution. That's a lot of photos in a very small space.

    JPG vs. TIFF

    In the world of digital imaging, JPG is a hero because the file format can compress an image to save space. This compression makes it possible to email a photo, send a file for printing, or post pictures to Pinterest or Facebook. But every time a JPG file is Saved, a bit of the information within the file is lost. Hence, JPG files are known as lossy files. For the average photo that is opened a saved a few times, the image loss is probably undetectable to the average eye. But when a photo is opened, edited, and saved repeatedly, the image can become almost unusable.

    It doesn't matter if the JPG image originated in your digital camera, your wand scanner, or on your smartphone, the JPG file will degrade with repeated Saves. How many? I tried to correct a poor quality digital photo over several sessions with my photo editing software; after more than a dozen attempts the image became blotchy and filled with pixellated artifacts. 

    Professional archivists and photographers have always had more demanding goals than consumers. They want to preserve original materials, and recommend using TIFF loss-less file format for archiving images. Unfortunately, TIFF files can be huge, and even with the current low price of terabyte storage, TIFF files are impractical for sharing and storing on portable devices. 

    In the world of digital photography, the equivalent of TIFF format files is RAW, another very-large file that requires some amount of post-photograph developing. Most family photographers don't need or want to learn to "shoot RAW."

    What Genealogists Want

    Family historians want it all. We want digital files we can

    • share with friends and family
    • post on websites, social media and sharing sites
    • print at our local big box store
    • edit and use in digital photo albums and scrapbooks
    • include in video slideshows and presentations

    AND, We want to create these digital files

    • without power cables
    • without computer cables
    • without a lot of fuss
    • wherever we happen to be at the moment

    My experience with that damaged photo taught me to use a simple workaround so I will never lose a JPG file again. Here's what I learned:

    Three Solutions

    The best advice we have today offers three easy solutions to preserving digital images for the future. The one you choose should depend on your time, funds, and personal goals. 

    TIFF is the archival gold-standard. Try to scan heirloom photos and documents in TIFF.

    When you don't have the option of TIFF, don't despair, remember C-A-N:

    C - Convert your JPG to TIFF and save all TIFF files in an Archive Folder.

    Tip: Use the same filename for both JPG and TIFF files. The .tif extension will remind you that this large, loss-less file is your Digital Master Image. If you need to open it for editing, the TIFF version will not degrade when saved.

    When you need a JPG version for email, editing, or another project, you will need to Export or Save As JPG.

    A - Archive a JPG copy of the original file and save this new JPG in an Archive Folder.

    Make it a Rule never to open the Archive JPG unless the original file is damaged or lost.

    Tip: Use a common root filename for both files --

    smith-john_1916_marriage.jpg (for the original file)

    smith-john_1916_marriageDM.jpg (for the Digital Master copy in your Archive Folder)

    N - Use a Nondestructive photo editor.

    Some photo editing programs never modify the original file. You can ALWAYS revert back to the original, even after repeated cropping, touch-ups, and enhancing. Look for this feature in your current program; not all photo editors are non-destructive.

    Popular nondestructive photo editing software includes Google PicasaApple iPhoto, Apple Aperture, and Adobe Lightroom. These programs handle files differently, but the original image is preserved.

    Go Ahead - Create JPG Images

    All this means that you CAN have the convenience of mobile scanning and photography and the security of a digital archive. In fact, mobile devices can help you easily build your own family history digital archive.

    When capturing images on your camera, scanner, or mobile phone, always use the highest quality and move the images to your computer hard drive for file renaming before backing up files to the Cloud and/or an external hard drive. 

    Flip-Pal Summer Sale

    The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is the only fully-portable scanner that features a unique, gentle flat-bed operation for digitizing fragile family photos, documents and heirlooms. It's really two scanners in one: a traditional glass flat-bed scanner with flip-down cover and a unique see-thru scanner for digitizing oversize and awkward items.

    The see-thru feature is especially helpful for capturing images from photo albums and bound books. Remove the scanner cover, flip the scanner, and position the device to scan your item.

    Use the C-A-N method to add your image to your family history digital archive.

    Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner bundles are on sale this summer. Get ready for your family reunion and the upcoming holiday season. Save $30 on the Flip-Pal mobile scanner Picture Keeper Bundle! Coupon code: SAS725


    P.S.: I bought my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner over three years ago and have used it for all kinds of digitizing projects. It's not my only scanner, but it's certainly the most fun to use! Yes, I am an Affiliate; I like it that much!


    Using Adobe Lightroom to Manage Genealogy Images

    LR3 desktop

    Most genealogists eventually find they need a comprehensive image management system if they want to do more than simply file away images in computer folders. After grappling with the problem for years, I found Adobe Lighroom was the solution for my ever-expanding image collection and my changing work style. 

    House Historian Marian Pierre-Louis recently asked if any genealogists used Lightroom for genealogy, and I expect there may be several dedicated users willing to trade tips and share experiences. I've been using Lightroom since 2008 to manage my growing image archive and successfully migrated my entire photo management system from a Windows computer to a Mac in 2010.

    Like many Adobe products, Lightroom is aimed at professional users, making it especially useful for anyone who wants to establish a productive and efficient workflow. Professional photographers want to take pictures, after all; they probably don't really want to spend time managing digital files.

    Why Lightroom?

    When I started scanning my family documents and photographs to create a set of Digital Masters, I quickly discovered that my current photo editing/management software crashed with large TIFF files.

    Adobe Photoshop Elements combined with my nominal PC hardware just couldn't handle the large files quickly and smoothly. I liked the file tagging ability of PSE, and the organization and editing features, but it became a real chore to work with a large number of files.

    XnView was my next choice and it served very well throughout my initial scanning. At the time, I was scanning old letters at the unnecessarily high dpi of 1200, but XnView could handle the enormous TIFF file sizes. XnView could also convert TIFF to JPG, resize, and do a number of other tasks.

    I would probably still be using the Mac version of XnView if Adobe Lightroom hadn't come along and seduced me with it's elegant design, smooth workflow, and fabulous tutorials.

    My Favorite Lightroom Features

    • Non-destructive editing -- yes, any changes are just instructions written to the file; the original is still there in all it's beautiful original detail
    • Presets -- beautiful beautiful preset instructions make it possible to Import, Name Files, Add Meta, Change Sizes, etc. all at the same time
    • Meta Tagging -- easy to understand meta tagging interface makes adding keywords nearly effortless
    • Simple Editing -- I don't do much editing with my archive images, preferring to keep them as original as possible, but when I need to crop, restore color, or touch up, I use the simple editing tools of LR
    • Independence -- my images are managed by Lightroom, but my files are still accessible by any image viewer because they continue to live in standard file folder hierarchy on my external hard drive. If I decide to move back to a Windows machine one day, I can easily install the Windows version of LR and access my files smoothly, or I could abandon LR (!) and still open and view my files and their embedded metadata.

    Probably the hardest part of getting started with Lightroom is simply "getting started." I attended an all-day workshop by LR expert Scott Kelby, and then followed David Marx's program for setting up Lightroom on an external hard srive at

    If you are intrigued by the idea of using Lightroom for your genealogy, I strongly encourage you to download the trial version and read tutorials and about setting up your initial file system. I used a small trial photo collection as I learned the program. It isn't particularly difficult to learn, but like most things, takes a bit of time and focus.

    I've written about my photo workflow using Lightroom in the past, but have made some changes to my initial scheme. I will aim to update the information and post a follow-up for anyone interested.

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